Direct Response is concerned with Salesmanship. Not your badly pressed suit, greaseback hair and cheesy grin salesman you understand, but salesmanship it is.
Oversimplified, I agree, but essentially, Salesmanship.
It was first defined as “Salesmanship in print” By copywriter John E Kennedy back in 1904 but it was later re-defined as “Salesmanship Multiplied”.
So, it’s been around far longer than the internet.
Copywriting has been around far longer than the internet.
The funny thing is that most people would run 10 miles if asked to make or endure a sales presentation, it’s the very last thing they would volunteer to for.
Most people think of salespeople as pushy, and very obnoxious.
And if given the choice between talking to one for a half hour or having our wisdom teeth removed we would rather have our visit to the dentist.
But that’s bad salesmanship.
Good salesmanship endeavours to discover what the client’s motivation to buy is before offering a solution to that problem (which hopefully we can fulfil).
Our problem is a communication one.
How can a copywriter put into words that are interesting a sales meeting?
Let me explain…
Clearly, being a salesman in print is a bit tricky, we cannot ask the prospect what their urgent problem is, and we cannot change our presentation to align it to that problem.
These are big advantages real face-to-face salespeople have over us.
But there are things we can do.
We can wave a big flag (our headline) that promises to solve an urgent problem in a marketplace.
We can give something valuable to gain interest and trust.
And we can unquestionably prove our promise.
Then, if we make a proposal based on urgency, we have a very good chance of making a sale.
The thing is: to achieve all of that, all at the same time is very difficult, which is why advertisers need a trained copywriter. Preferably ones who have actually done some real sales.
The true beauty of Direct response then comes into view.
Our job is only half done, because we must test.
And the advantage of that is that you can increase sales by always looking for a new sales message written in direct response format to beat your previous best.
That’s the core of what a copywriter trained in direct response does, always trying to beat the previous best.
Close enough isn’t good enough. Your copywriter should be hammering on your door trying to make their copy the very best.